As such, I thought it would be appropriate to chronicle the team's portrayals through various animated media. As of the time of this writing, they've appeared five times, with a sixth on the way. (To those who would nitpick: The Super Hero Squad Show doesn't count, they were only mentioned.) Of these appearances, I won't be going over Marvel: Disk Wars because I'm simply the wrong person to talk about anime.
But, yes, their appearances in cartoons did start around the time of the announcement. However did you guess? Interestingly enough, though, this episode originally aired May of 2012, and the official Guardians film announcement happened two months later in July. Pretty sneaky way to generate some buzz about the team before you announce the film, Marvel.
So let's look at the animated world debut of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
|Yeah, I said I'd be doing the 2-part premiere next, but I have a good reason for doing something different; I lied.|
Hawkeye, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp, Ms. Marvel (cosmic-powered flying brick), and Black Panther.
Ready? Let's begin.
The episode opens on a Central Park fountain at night. Suddenly, a naked man appears in a sphere of glowing energy, leaving a rather large crater. But this isn't Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's a scared man with weird markings on his back.
???: "They're coming for me!"
Policeman: "Who's coming for you?"
In response, the naked man simply points to the sky. Well, that narrows it down to aliens, living planets, Brainiac, Galactus, birds, clouds, the sun, and the moon. I'm betting it's the moon. Over at Avengers Tower, Wasp is moping to a hologram of Ms. Marvel while shirking monitor duty.
Wasp: "I told JARVIS to let me know if anything blows up."
Isn't the idea to make sure things don't blow up?
Wasp: "I just can't believe that Hank and I are falling apart."
I can. You're not a very good person.
Wasp: "I mean... I'm me!"
That's my point.
Wasp: "How can this be happening?"
I made a list. Want to see it?
Wasp: "...but I was really mean to him the last time we talked. Which I feel kinda bad about."
Progress! We have progress!
Ms. Marvel: "But if Hank really cared... he wouldn't have left."
And right back to square one. Need I remind you all that they're both dismissing the fact that Hank has been having a nervous breakdown since he accidentally created a psychotic android? But there's no more time for Bechdel Test-failing girl talk, the mansion doorbell rings.
Wasp: "Is this a drop-off?"
|"Dropping off, or picking up?"|
Wasp: "Have you contacted S.W.O.R.D.?"
Cop: "What's that?"
Way to blow the cover of a secret military organization, Wasp. But before she can leak Nick Fury's PIN number (WAHOO, if you're curious), Naked Crazy Man hallucinates that she's someone named "Corrina." Wasp decides to help him, and ushers him inside.
Wasp: "Do you have a name?"
Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer?
???: "Michael Korvac."
Hey, we have a title! She takes him down to the sublevels in the elevator and tells him that she's called in a nurse named Jane Foster. She asks him what happened, and this sends him into abduction flashbacks. He starts lashing out, so Wasp hits him with one of her stings, knocking him out. Later, Jane arrives and starts monitoring his brain activity with wires and machines while the other Avengers arrive to talk to Wasp.
Hawkeye: "I'm pretty sure I've seen this movie before."
|I know, right?|
Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Panther are looking at the Korvac Krater. As they go to get their data examined, five mysterious figures appear in the distance. Their orange leader makes their intentions clear with one word: Korvac. Back at the tower, Korvac's not eating. Tony talks to the Hulk, telling him that Korvac's fine, just malnourished, dehydrated, and emitting strange energy.
Tony: "Something I've never seen before. Sorry, I guess this is a bit over your head."
Hulk: "It's a form of cosmic radiation."
Hawkeye and Black Panther enter with news.
Black Panther: "There was residual cosmic radiation at the site."
I love it when they give the Hulk hidden depths.
Ms. Marvel is said to be on her way, and Cap is missing, having apparently requested time off for... things. Michael gets brought to the foyer to see Corrina, and they embrace. As it turns out, he's been gone for two years.
Korvac: "I'll never let us be apart again, Corrina. I will never let them hurt me again. Any of them."
And to answer the question, the five mysterious figures teleport in and engage the Avengers. Wasp begins the fight by attacking the helmeted one. Fighting happens, and Wasp goes to protect Korvac and Corrina. The aliens and the Avengers get some good blows in before the aliens' translators start working.
Groot: "I am GROOT!"
Star-Lord: "I'm called Star-Lord. And you have to listen to me. You have no idea who Michael Korvac is."
Wait a minute, I recognize that voice! Master Chief! Okay, that's a pretty nifty bit of casting.
Speaking of Korvac, he tries to get to the Quinjet with Corrina, but is stopped by orange-guy. Hawkeye and Star-Lord run in and tell Wasp to stand down and listen to the aliens.
Star-Lord: "He's a wanted fugitive. He's insane."
Well, we know for a fact that the second one's true.
Star-Lord: "He's wiped out thousands of sentient lives."
Ms. Marvel arrives, and Korvac goes super-saiyan, knocking everyone else down. So, he's a cosmic mass-murderer who wants to protect his girlfriend while going crazy? Wait a minute, I recognize this movie, too....
|Why do things keep reminding me of Episode III?|
Tony: "I want answers. Who are you people?"
Finally, I can stop calling them names like "orange guy" and "raccoon." They're the Guardians of the Galaxy (as you probably figured out by my intro before this Recap).
|Groot, that is literally the opposite of a photobomb.|
A space-Ent. Also, as he will be the first to point out, he is Groot.
Cockney-accented raccoon with guns
Keeper of the Soul Gem, which gives him vaguely defined powers
|He and Quasar were portrayed in the movie by Sir-Not-Appearing-in-This-Film|
Cosmically-powered space lady
Korvac, as they explain, was abducted by the Kree and experimented on. Then he escaped and starting destroying stuff. They've been tracking him. Warlock wakes up, and tells the others that they've been teleported inside the gem on his forehead for safety, which was the original plan for taking care of Korvac. Speaking of him, he's attacking Ms. Marvel in Central Park while accusing her of being a Kree.
|Like all invaders from space, he's here for the women.|
Corrina: "You're the only monster here, Michael."
Which is a pretty big statement when you consider that there's a Hulk, a living tree, and a talking raccoon present. Korvac apparently self-destructs in his grief, and the teams go to console Corrina, as we see a shot of Korvac floating in the trippy, Kirby-style cosmos.
And after a dedication to show director and producer of X-Men: Evolution Boyd Kirkland, the episode ends.